Steve Blank‘s Customer Development methodology emphasizes that startups need to seek “earlyvangelists,” potential customers who’s “hair is on fire.” Great image! Makes sense when you hear it! Then you try to find such customers and… their hair is not literally on fire so you struggle to apply the concept!
Here is a definition that my students find helpful (adapted from Steve Blank’s work):
A Customer’s “Hair is on fire” when they are in so much pain that they are already spending time and/or money on some hodgepodge solution that you are superior to?
Tag lines – they should follow the same rules as elsewhere in your presentation. ”Don’t tell me about your lawn fertilizer, tell me about my lawn.“
Bad tagline: “All inPlay – Multiplayer online video games for the visually impaired and their friends & family.” – This emphasizes FEATURES. Why do we care that these are multiplayer online games?
Good one: “All inPlay – Allowing the visually impaired to play and interact with their friends and family unhandicapped and as equals.” – This emphasizes the benefits making it clear to anyone why this company is valuable.
Almost every startup I work with has a hard time keeping Pains, Gains, and Features separated in the heads. This is a natural challenge, but overcoming it is critical!
* Impact your customer’s ability to Get/Keep/Grow their own customers
* Impact your customer’s cost structure negatively (may hurt their profit margins, may create inconvenient cash flow situations, etc).
* For consumer-facing startups, pains can also impact a core emotion.
But don’t confuse that with HOW you solve the problem.
Example 1: Let’s imagine a consultant offering supply chain management solutions. But Supply chain management isn’t the PAIN, it is a set of FEATURES. His customers don’t have an amorphous “supply chain management issue.” They have issues like…
* Cost structure >> paying too much for supplies
* Cust. Relationships: GET >> time it takes to get supplies makes our turn-around time slow, meaning we are losing market share to faster competitors
* Cust. Relationships: KEEP >> supplies that showed up from china are WRONG, so we’re going to miss our promised deadline to our customer… possibly costing us the customer
Example 2: A consultant to retirement centers helping their staffs better communicate with hard of hearing clients. Training on how to communicate with hard of hearing people is a FEATURE. Her customers don’t wake up thinking they have a core business problem with that. But they do worry about…
* Cost structure >> High employee turnover due to frustration w/ communicating with our clients means we spend a lot of time & money training new people, lowering the productivity and profitability of our company.
* Cust. Relationships: GET >> Word is getting out that we yell at our patients, which is turning of the high-end families we really want to attract…
* Cust. Relationships: GROW >> Because we can’t communicate clearly to our hard of hearing patrons, we can’t up sell them any of the great offerings we have available for them and they are less likely to refer friends to us.
Steve Blank kindly open-sources his Lean Launchpad curriculum. In keeping with that spirit here is the syllabus to a 5-day version (inside are links to simple, custom tools we developed) of the curriculum we deployed at Smith (liberal arts women’s college) over January Term. I hope this proves of aid to others exploring adapting Lean Launchpad to Liberal Arts institutions.
Join me this Friday, 9am-11am, to watch 30 Smithies present the journey they’ve gone through in an intensive entrepreneurship bootcamp (the Lean Launchpad curriculum). I’m AMAZED at what these young women have done in just five days. I think you will be too. Oh, free food too :).
Our first team has enrolled in Lean Launchpad:Pioneer Valley. We have room for up to seven more. Classes start on 2/1.
Click is proud to announce open enrollment for the Spring 2014 Lean Launchpad:Pioneer Valley class. This course is the first in Western Massachusetts based on Steve Blank‘s Lean Launchpad, the #1 entrepreneurship curriculum in the country. The curriculum has proven it can dramatically increase startups’ odds of success by accelerating their ability to find a repeatable, scalable business model before they run out of ramen noodles (or spousal patience :)). Check out some of the results our first cohort of teams achieved.
Our version of the course is optimized for entrepreneurs in the Pioneer Valley actively developing a startup. View syllabus
There is a growing movement to run companies without titles or traditional hierarchy. People have tried this for decades and, sadly, mostly failed. But in the past ten years several companies have embraced various forms of this concept and been successful: Valve, a 300+ person, $1 billion per year in revenue company, Asana, the hot Silicon Valley productivity startup, and Medium to name a few. Zappos just adopted Holacracy, the most well-articulated structure for achieving the no-titles, no-hierarchy approach. Some are wondering if this might be an ideal way for startups to organize. We are too! What about you?
More on Holacracy from its founder in the below video: